More Parents Dissatisfied and Seeking Change in School Lunches

Quick! When you think about fruit, what comes to mind? A banana? An orange? A crisp red apple?  Now think about veggies. Do you picture a golden ear of corn? A shiny radish? A purple eggplant? If you were a school-aged kid, you might think of syrup-packed peach cubes or floppy, wet green beans, because canned produce still frequently dominates the produce offerings in school cafeterias. And parents have had enough. According to a poll just released by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, more than 85 percent of parents surveyed said fresh fruit and vegetables, not canned, should be served in schools on a daily basis. (Here’s the full report by the W.K. Kellog Foundation)

The 801 parents polled also named pizza, hamburgers, French fries/tater tots, hot dogs/corn dogs, and chicken nuggets as those foods that come most readily to mind when asked about school food. And with good reason: these five foods, often of dubious nutritional quality, still very much dominate the offerings.

Increasingly dissatisfied with what’s on offer, parents are speaking out, and the demand for change includes a broader chorus of voices than ever before.

I’m currently in Arizona at the Food & Community gathering, where the vibe is anything but doom and gloom. Hundreds of advocates, many under 25 years old, are here to inspire and share ideas for how to improve not just cafeteria offerings, but children’s overall, and nationwide, access to nutritious, high-quality food. With continued pressure for change, there’s plenty of hope on the horizon.



Cheryl Sternman Rule is a widely-published food writer and the voice behind the blog 5 Second Rule.





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